Comic book and superhero films are the most popular films of the 21st century, thanks to our ever-increasing technology in filmmaking. They’re action-packed, thrilling, and often have good plots to boot. But that being said, with so many superhero films out, and with most of them trying to carry on multiple storylines at the same time, it is easy to run into glaring plot holes and unexplained continuity problems.
The biggest problems come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whose huge repertoire of films and spin-offs make the franchise an easy target for head-scratching mistakes and unexplained issues. When you’re trying to give every member of the Avengers their own one-off film (with sequels), for instance, it’s no wonder that problems arise in the future, when you try to smoosh all of the characters into a single film.
Here are 10 of the worst plot holes in comic book movies.
10 The Wolverine - Sloppy Writing, Sloppy Powers
The X-Men franchise has always been wrought with continuity issues and plot holes, and in The Wolverine, the franchise's sixth installment, things aren’t much better. In the film, Wolverine travels to Japan to become mortal by a wealthy businessman who he saved in World War II.
The problem is that Wolverine’s regenerating cells and immortality are his mutation - his metal skeleton was given to him by the Weapon X Program - so he isn’t lying when he says, “What they did to me can’t be undone.” Some other unexplained issues: How does that robotic spider/bug take away his healing powers? Why can’t his claws cut through swords anymore? How does drilling into his bones steal his healing powers and youth? As a result of sloppy writing, none of these are explained.
9 Spider-Man 2 - Kill First, Ask Questions Later
In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus is hellbent on finding and killing Spider-Man, who he feels is responsible for killing his wife. The Doc learns from Harry Osbourne that Peter Parker might know how to contact Spidey, since he’s the webslinger’s photographer.
So why, then, when Peter Parker and Mary Jane are sitting in a cafe, does Doctor Octopus send a car crashing through a window, headed towards Peter, with the intent to kill him? If Peter didn’t have his Spidey senses - and was able to narrowly dodge the flying car - he and MJ would have died. And remember, Doctor Octopus didn’t know that Peter Parker was Spider-Man at the time.
So in the future, when you need to interrogate someone for questions, remember that it is always best to ask first before you send cars flying in their direction. Spider-Man 2 opted for shock value and action over logic in this regard.
8 Guardians of the Galaxy - The Orb and the Cassette
Although the surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most well-received Marvel films to date, it is not without its own flaws. Granted, these are a bit more nit-picky than some of the other plot holes, but here’s a few. In the beginning of the film, we see Peter Quill retrieve the Orb in a comically easy manner. If it’s so powerful, why didn’t Thanos just get the Infinity Orb for himself? Okay, it’s explained in the comics that the planet where the orb was is usually flooded, and Star-Lord got there at the right time, so we’ll let that one slide.
But here’s another one: How is Peter Quill’s cassette tape so durable? After holding onto it for 20 years, in and out of space, we all know how fragile those things are. Furthermore, when Peter is abducted, along with his backpack and cassette tape/Walkman, where did the tape player on his ship come from? After Nova Corp destroys the ship, how is the cassette player/tape still there? And how did the second mixtape at the end of the film stay in perfect, wrapped condition after their ship had just been obliterated? I have questions that need answering.
7 The Dark Knight - Organized Chaos
In The Dark Knight, arguably the best of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Joker is portrayed by the Batman as being unpredictable, chaotic, and he “just wants to watch the world burn.” But in reality, the Joker knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way, which hurts the overall plot structure of the film.
For instance, Joker planned to get captured and put in jail so that he could unveil his grand scheme: the Harvey Dent and Rachel bomb scenario. But before that, the Joker is seen shooting a rocket launcher at Harvey’s armored truck. Somehow he knew that Batman would step in the way and deflect the missile, but if Batman hadn’t, Harvey would have died and the Joker’s plan would have failed. Somehow, he knew exactly what was going to happen. So we pose this question about the Joker: Psychotic? Or psychic?
6 Man of Steel - Zod and Superman’s Shortcomings
In the Zack Snyder reboot of Superman, Man of Steel, General Zod’s ambition is to reach the planet Earth and terraform the planet to destroy the human race and turn Earth into the next Krypton. He wanted to do this so he wouldn’t have to “suffer years of pain adapting to its atmosphere.” The problem is that Superman grew up on Earth with his powers, few illnesses (except trouble breathing as a baby), and is the strongest person on the planet. Effectively, Zod’s strategy was flawed, as was the entire plot of the film.
Furthermore, it’s always been accepted that Clark Kent’s glasses would completely hide the fact that he’s Superman. But in a modern film, supposed to replicate the 21st century (with cameras everywhere, the Internet, etc.), it’s hard to believe that people wouldn’t recognize Clark Kent at the end of the film as Superman, when he goes to join the Daily Planet, after the entire planet had just witnessed him save their species.
5 The Avengers - The Case of the Missing Scepter
Because of all the spin-offs, TV shows, and numerous movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not exactly setting the golden standard for continuity throughout its movies. This can be seen in The Avengers, when villain Loki is sent by Thanos to retrieve the mythical Tesseract. Loki is given his scepter, which can manipulate and hurt people, and is imbued with an Infinity Stone.
After the big battle at New York, when Loki and his minions are defeated, the Avengers retrieve the Tesseract and Loki’s scepter. Thor takes the Tesseract to Asgard for safekeeping, while Black Widow is seen holding the scepter (for some reason). Why wouldn’t Thor take the scepter, knowing how powerful it is? And also, in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, why is the scepter suddenly at the homebase of H.Y.D.R.A?! How’d they get ahold of that thing?
4 Batman Begins - Microwaving the Populace
The Microwave Emitter that turns Gotham into a nightmare in Batman Begins is loosely based on real-time military devices, though the science shown in the film was shaky at best. During the film, it’s explained how the machine can instantly vaporize water, but not injure people, so we’ll take that for what it’s worth.
But how weren’t the people of Gotham driven mad before the climactic end of the film? Even though the toxin was supposedly harmless in water, the bad guys had spent weeks spreading it through the city, which means that any heat source - boiling, showers, etc. - would have turned Gotham’s citizens crazy.
It’s also hard to justify why the toxin only used water pipelines as a conduit (which it was explained were directly underneath the speeding train), and not humans. Why would people’s blood not boil when the toxin was released?
3 Iron Man 3 - Fool Me Once, Shame on Me...
This one is irksome because it completely disregards what viewers of previous movies have always thought was the weakness of Iron Man: that the shrapnel in his heart could not be removed, or he would die. That’s the whole point of him needing the arc reactor to survive.
So why, in Iron Man 3, is Tony Stark able to undergo surgery and remove the shrapnel from his chest without any repercussions? And if this was possible all along, why didn’t he do this surgery when the shrapnel was actually killing him? When viewers are told one thing, and then illogically shown something that refutes that fact, that makes for a heart-sized plot hole and sloppy writing.
2 The Dark Knight Rises - Continuity Issues Kill the Batman
The third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was not as well received as the previous two, and that is because of a jarring plot, continuity issues, and less interesting characters. There are a few issues here: Firstly, how does Batman escape that large nuclear blast at the end of the film, and how does no one recognize billlionaire Bruce Wayne when he’s in Florence? He’s supposed to be one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
Second, why the hell would Bruce leave all of his stuff to John “Robin” Blake at the end of the film, and when did he have time to amend his will to do so? Obviously not before he lost all of his money. And that brings up another thing: When Bane attacks the Stock Exchange and bankrupts Bruce Wayne by forging transactions in Wayne’s name, his company is sent spiraling, and Wayne is about to lose the company. Why would Wayne Enterprise’s board members - who all witnessed Bane’s attack - think that Bruce dumped his stock at the exact same time as the attack on the Exchange?
1 X-Men: Days of Future Past - Time Traveling Nonsense
X-Men: Days of Future Past is probably the best X-Men film to date, but keep in mind that it’s competing with some of the worst congruent storylines in Marvel. The time travel aspect of this film doesn’t help the continuity, either, but it makes the film very interesting. In the film, the Sentinels of the future are able to copy mutants’ powers, wiping the mutants out. It’s explained that they captured Mystique, copied her powers, and thus were able to copy other mutants’.
The only problem is that Mystique only copies cosmetic abilities - as in, she can’t replicate Cyclops’ laser eyes or Xavier’s mind powers. In a deleted scene, it’s explained that the Sentinels also captured and copied Rogue, who’s able to steal mutant powers, but that’s never explained in the actual film.
Which brings us to the biggest plot hole of all: How the hell is Professor Xavier alive in the future, when he was killed off in X-Men: Last Stand? We get that Wolverine travels to 1973 to stop the Sentinels from being built, and thus to stop the events and deaths of Xavier, Cyclops, and Jean, but how is the Professor alive BEFORE Wolverine goes back in time? That glaring mistake is never explained, and it surely left us all scratching our heads.